US does not see YPG as terrorist group despite Turkish concerns: State Department

Author : Hurriyet Dailynews
Posted : March 9, 2017


The United States supports the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria despite Turkey’s concerns over the issue, U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner has said, repeating that Washington still views the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization.

“We’ve long supported the YPG within the context of the SDF, the Syrian Democratic Forces that are operating in northern Syria,” Toner said, responding to questions during a press briefing on March 8.

“They’ve been very effective – we’ve talked about this many times – in removing ISIS from the battlefield, dislodging them, and ultimately destroying them,” he said, using another acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“I think they’ve liberated some 6,000 kilometers and more than 100 villages from ISIS around Raqqa since the operation began on November 4th [2016]. We’re also obviously mindful of Turkey’s concerns with respect to the YPG and we respectfully disagree with them linking the YPG with the PKK. And let’s be very clear that, with respect to the PKK, we still view them as a terrorist organization,” he said.

Turkey sees with the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, as terrorist groups linked to the PKK and has called on the U.S. and other allies not to cooperate with the groups.

The spokesperson also commented on a two-day meeting in Antalya among the Turkish, U.S. and Russian chiefs of staff.

The focus of the meeting, which ended March 8, was “to strengthen the de-conflict mechanisms that we have already in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our various forces who are operating on the ground in Syria,” he said.

“They did discuss Manbij, but only in the context of the larger fight against ISIS in the region,” Toner added regarding the northern Syrian city that Turkey insists the PYD must vacate.

“They also discussed other terrorist organizations that are active, including the PKK, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front as part of the regional security picture,” Toner said.



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